Music of the Month: Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent

Robert J. Powell has composed a well-crafted and accessible organ collection for Lent, Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent. This book offers settings that are appropriate to the season, such as “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now,” and “Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow.” Each setting offers a series of key and tempo changes. The final setting, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me,” offers a joyful, majestic ending to an otherwise somber piece.

Post-Christmas Planning for the Parish Musician

With the business of the Advent season and the festivals surrounding Christmas behind us, the New Year is an opportunity for parish musicians to catch a breath. After planning and preparing for multiple services each week, and sometimes each day, most parish musicians are able to come up for air in January as service schedules return to a somewhat less-hectic normal.

The next “big thing” on the Church Year calendar, however, is less than two months away: the season of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday on February 17. As parish musicians continue their work during the season of Epiphany, it’s helpful to always have an eye toward what may be coming up.

A schedule of multiple services each week will resume for many congregations once Lent begins, with midweek Lenten services and added services during Holy Week. Thus, the need for accessible and tasteful Lenten music is always present for parish musicians.

Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent

Robert J. Powell, who has published organ, choral, and instrumental music for more than sixty years, has published a collection of six organ preludes for the season of Lent, including these tunes: CROSS OF JESUS; GETHSEMANE; HERR, ICH HABE MISSGEHANDELT; JESU KREUZ, LEIDEN UND PEIN; ST. CROSS; and TOPLADY.

The range of hymn tunes included should be useful for the parish organist from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday, and even here and there outside the Lenten season. For example, Powell’s setting of TOPLADY (“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”) takes on a buoyant and lively character that should be tasteful throughout the Church Year, not just during the reflective days of Lent.



Each of Powell’s six settings feature the given hymn tune in a variety of ways, from allowing the organist to use the Swell box to create dynamic interest to calling for registration changes throughout the prelude. Modulations into different keys also provide the listener with added harmonic variety and interest.

Although each prelude shows variety in its dynamic range and use of organ registration, many of Powell’s settings allow the organist an opportunity to feature the flutes and strings on the organ, something that, depending on an organist’s own taste and experience, may or may not be a novel ensemble of sounds to feature on a particular instrument. 

Powell’s collection of organ preludes for Lent should be accessible for many church organists, and should provide the variety and musicianship that even the more experienced organist will find satisfying to play. These preludes are sure to benefit congregations this year as another way to allow music to supplement the theme and character of the Lenten season.

Start preparing for Lenten services at your church by ordering Powell’s collection below. 

Order Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent

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Written by

Nathan Grime

Nathan Grime is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a 2020 graduate of Hillsdale College, where he studied rhetoric, public address, and journalism. Nathan is the fifth and sixth grade teacher at Our Savior Lutheran School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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